The Freakonomics Blog published a Q&A with Bill James yesterday. James is a baseball stat guru who has had a significant impact on how the sport is viewed by fans and even played on the field. A longtime outsider, several years ago he was hired by the Boston Red Sox, who hadn’t won a World Series since 1918. Since James joined the club, they’ve won two titles. Coincidence?
I love James not just because I think he’s brilliant or that I’m a Red Sox fan, but because of how he created a brand and has stayed remarkably true to it. This guy was peddling photocopied booklets of his stats in the late-70s and turned that into the type of career that gets you interviewed on 60 Minutes.
Now, at some point James could have branched out and done statistical analysis for another sport, or even moved in to political analysis. But he’s maintained a laserlike focus on baseball. He could have diversified, but I bet he doesn’t have the same passion for those other things like he does for baseball.
Now, compare that to Kanye West, who recently launched a travel website. Anybody think Kanye has a real passion for the travel industry?